Turning and Finishing
Here’s where we left off with the cravat. It’s now time to begin the process of turning and pressing them.
Begin by carefully trimming the seam allowance to just over 1/8″ at both ends. I like to taper the cut to avoid any hard transitions.
Here’s the completed end after trimming. Repeat for the other end. Be sure not to trim any closer than 1/8″, or you risk the seam coming undone and it fraying.
Turning the cravat is pretty straightforward, but I’ll try to give you a few tips I’ve picked up. First, separate the two layers of fabric near the tip, sort of opening it up.
Then push it into itself, and use the eraser end of an unsharpened pencil to gradually and carefully push the end through towards the opening in the middle. Try not to put too much pressure on the very tip – keep the pencil off to one side or the other.
Continue pushing the pencil and cravat gently through, collecting the gathers of fabric as far down the pencil as you can.
There’s a lot of fabric that gets gathered up on the pencil, and it’s easy to get the pencil lost in the gathers if you don’t push them down far enough.
Finally, the right side of the cravat tip should emerge from the opening. Once you have a firm grasp of it, you can pull the pencil out, and pull the rest of this side of the cravat right side out.
Here’s the first half of the cravat turned right side out. Repeat the same process for the remaining half.
Pressing is one of the most important aspects of good tailoring, and I spend almost as much time pressing here in this simple project as I do sewing. Looking at the cravat so far, you’ll notice that a lot of the seams tend to be ‘inside’ the cravat still. I like to insert a seam turning tool into the opening at this point to crease each of the seams from the inside, and in particular straighten out the points at each end. You could also use a pencil for this process with pretty much the same results.
It’s hard to see, but I’m holding the point pressing tool against the seam and pulling both edges firmly, giving a nice crisp edge to the seam.
Continue the process towards the point.
At the point carefully and gently push the point fully open from the inside. Be careful not to use too much pressure as this is the weak point and can very easily burst open. Get the point looking exactly how you want it to, as pressing will not do much if the point is not sharp now.
Continue around the other seam, and the other half of the cravat in the same manner.
Without using steam at this point, I like to give the cravat a light pressing just to keep everything in its position. You don’t really want to crease the edges yet, as that makes finishing the opening a little more difficult. Since we’re pressing the outside of the cravat, I like to use a press cloth, in this case a scrap of linen, between the iron and the cravat to prevent any scorch or dirt marks from appearing.
Here’s what you should have so far.
Ladder Stitching the Opening
It’s time to close up the opening now with what’s sometimes known as a ladder stitch. This is an almost invisible stitch from the outside which gives a nice clean finish to your cravat.
You’ll notice that the seam allowance at the opening is creased under from the pressing, but still not completely flat at this point.
With your needle and some fine finishing thread, make two or three stitches in place near one end of the opening on one seam allowance, being sure not to let the stitch show through on the outside. The stitches should be about 1/8″ below the crease and parallel to the fold.
Make your next stitch beginning directly across from the end of the previous stitch in the other seam allowance.
Continue making about four or five stitches, not pulling them tight at this point. You’ll notice how they form somewhat of a ‘ladder’, hence the name.
Now carefully pull the thread, pulling the stitches firmly closed. Don’t pull too tightly though, as you’ll end up with unsightly gathers.
Continue with the same process across the width of the opening, closing it up nicely. At the other end, make another three or so stitches in place, hiding them as best you can in the folds of the seam.
We’ll finish up the cravat with one last pressing. I’m again using the press cloth. Lightly dampen the press cloth with a spray bottle, use high heat on your iron, and you’ll end up with a very nicely pressed and crisp cravat, ready to wear.